Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won last week’s GOP main event debate. In fact, he’s won every debate of the cycle. He even won all of the Democratic debates and all of the undercard GOP debates. He didn’t just win the debates; he won the polls, and he won the news, and he won social media and he won the Internet. And while Trump was busy hitting the jackpot, most opinion writers were dogging him for missing out on the four bucks. Next, he’ll win Iowa. Then New Hampshire. He’ll win Super Tuesday, and then he’ll win the nomination.
Trump has unlocked an entirely new paradigm in presidential politics: the Pinocchio paradigm. There’s a famous scene from Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio” that’s basically an allegory of the Donald J. Trump story. Jiminy “Opinion-Writer” Cricket says, “Go ahead, make a fool of yourself. Then, maybe you’ll listen to your conscience.”
Then, Pinocchio J. Trump dances right along with all the regular marionettes. He’s clumsy. He can’t dance like the others. But the crowd loves him because he’s “got no strings” and he’s singing all about it at the top of his lungs. As the crowd goes nuts for the fumbling, bumbling, stringless Pinocchio, Jiminy “Opinion-Writer” Cricket scratches his head, totally dumbfounded, and says, “Hmm, they like him. He’s a success. Gosh, maybe I was wrong.
Whether you worship or despise Trump, the man has no strings. Nobody controls Trump. Not the Republican Party, not the media, not the other candidates, not the donors, not social mores, not basic political truths, not special interest groups, not even the voters. Trump pulls their strings.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pulls out his tough-guy line, “We are going to kick your rear end out of the White House come this fall.” Four years ago, lines like that made headlines.